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by Gwendoline Butler
St. Martin's, April 2003
187 pages
ISBN: 0312290330

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A pornographic photograph depicting pedophiliac practices is left for Stella Pinero, Lady Coffin, famous actress wife of Sir John Coffin, Chief Commander of Police of the Second City of London (Docklands). There have also been a series of rape-murders in Sir John's region, which appear to target Stella.

Luckily, Miss Pinero is in Scotland, filming a TV play, so she is safe for a time. Coffin plans to send a car to the airport to meet her when she returns, but doesn't and she is picked up by a phony black cab driver who apparently kidnaps her. She escapes and returns to the church tower that is their home.

While Stella is missing, a lifelike female doll is placed in Coffin's entryway, which leads to a sleepless night. When Stella finally returns, a close watch is placed on her, to keep her safe. More murders and a suicide lead toward Stella as the target of the crimes.

This is about the 30th Coffin book over a period of 45 years. I think it is time that Butler retires the character. COFFIN KNOWS THE ANSWER is very thin. The pedophiliac is ignored because Stella is more important to the chief. All of the resources of the Second City police force seem to be relegated to keeping Pinero safe, and, if possible, finding the stalker, even though the crimes against children are the more heinous. The series has deteriorated into "The life of Sir John Coffin and Stella Pinero" (who should have gotten her own title by this time). I think I'll give any future titles in this series a miss and go back and read the earlier ones which were much more satisfying crime novels.



Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, April 2003

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